Cats may seem like a mute creature except for the occasional meow for food or attention. I have been in the company of many cats in my life. I have found a rich language spoken by these furred creatures with their body language. I am going to focus on tail-speak despite the cues and messages you can understand from ears, whiskers, and bellies. See if you and your feline have new understanding and closer relationship after you know what they are saying to you.
When my felines approach me with a tail that is straight I know they are pleased to see me and ready for me to interact with them. I can safely stroke their fur or be playful without fear of attack. I try to let them rub on my hand which shows me where they want to be touched. If I do not pay attention, I may get a nasty response when I touch a part of their body that they do not want touched in that moment.
Straight With a Bent Tip
If my kitty walks toward me with a straight tail with the tip flicking side to side, I know they
When I see the tail of a cat puffed up, I know immediately one of two things is happening, either they are scared and trying to make themselves look bigger, or they are feeling very frisky and playing with another cat. This would be one of the most inappropriate times to pick up or touch my cat. I am very likely to get a bite or scratch because they are in hunter mode. If my cat is scared, I will make sure that my other cats leave them alone. If there is a rousing game of chase between them, I sit back and enjoy the show. If one tires and the game turns rough, I engage the more energetic critter with a laser or cat toy. This keeps the peace between my animals and maintains a happy equilibrium in my home.
Slow wagging tails have been a warning that I have overstimulated my cat with petting. This happens whether they are in my lap or on the ground. When I notice the slow wagging, I know that I should stop stroking their fur immediately. I do not have to put them on the ground, but if I ignore what the tail is telling me I may not get another warning, and I may end up with a scratch or bite to remind me to pay attention better next time.
I admit I have ignored the slow wagging tail, and my cat has been kind enough to give me further warning that I have overstimulated their body. The built-up energy needs an outlet, and while I may avoid getting bit or scratched, without a doubt one of my other cats will receive the brunt of my actions. Fast wagging can be accompanied by flattened ears and growling or whining noises. My cat may still not attack, but now it is my responsibility to calm them again. When I rouse my cats to a fever pitch then I immediately use a toy to release the tension, and everyone avoids injury.
Down and Twitching
My cats enjoy chasing bugs, watching the neighborhood cats out of the window, and odd shadows on the wall. My cat will let me know how fixated they are by the twitching of their tail. When I see a twitching tail, I know they are in hunting mode and not aware of anything except their prey. This is another inappropriate time to try to pet and cuddle my cat. If I really want to pet them, then I call their name softly so I will not startle them. If they respond with a trill and straight tail, then I can proceed to cuddle. If the response is acknowledgement, and then they go straight back to what they were looking at, it is a kind request to be left alone.
Curled Around Feet/Body
Cats are not the mysterious creatures they seem to be. Cats are constantly communicating with us. It is vital to notice what your cat is telling you if you want a harmonious relationship. Start with the tail and see how quickly you become a cat whisperer.